Our federal election will offer voters an opportunity to ensure that our nation is guided by leaders who will provide practical and efficient leadership with the good of all in mind – including the unborn, the elderly, the young, families, and those who are too often forgotten by society – as well as workers, farmers, business owners, and all future generations.
Catholics are called to participate, in accordance with the full measure of talents entrusted to us by God. At a minimum, this means voting wisely after having considered all relevant issues, the positions of each of the candidates and parties, and relevant Church teachings. And many of us are called to even deeper involvement: volunteering at polling stations and other efforts to get out the vote; engaging personally with candidates and party officials; helping to spread good ideas and encourage others to vote properly; or in some cases volunteering to assist candidates or parties – or even putting ourselves forward as candidates.
This page will guide you toward resources and starting points to assist you in these efforts, whether you are Catholic or simply a good person interested in a better world.
The Catholic voting process always involves informing ourselves and praying for guidance. Using the process outlined here, we can vote with confidence – even when no clear choice is offered.
For Catholics, the voting process is really just a variation of the process we should use in making all of our life decisions. In voting, we should always:
- Inform ourselves responsibly concerning (a) the teachings of the Church and (b) issues relevant to the election;
- Reflect prayerfully;
- Choose confidently;
- Vote (polling places can generally be found on the provincial/territorial election registrars’ websites); and
- Once the election is over, stay actively and respectfully engaged with those who have been elected – whether they are our own preferred candidates or not. This is important if we hope to improve our choices in the future.
Even when choices seem clear, we should neither ignore the process nor skip steps: we Catholics have both a civic duty to stay informed and a calling to seek God’s help in choosing. Nor can we responsibly abstain from voting, except in extreme and very clear-cut circumstances. If we don’t vote or stay engaged between elections, how can we hope to improve things? And how, when our time comes and we face judgment, will we explain the fact that we failed to do what we could to help build a world pleasing to God?
Sometimes our choices can be very difficult. For more information on a Catholic approach to voting, particularly when choices are difficult, look here.
“As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1915
For more than 130 years the Catholic Church has offered detailed guidance on a full range of social issues, from the dignity of life and of our life’s work to the environment and proper roles of government, the economy, and educational institutions.
Specifically, we are called to consider each of the following principles, values, and virtues in deciding our votes:
- The life and dignity of the human person, which includes both the sanctity of life and the dignity of work. Catholics care about the sanctity of life because the entire purpose of this life is for each soul God puts into it to find its way back to God. Terminating a life voluntarily at any time after its conception necessarily frustrates that purpose. We care about work because it is through our life’s work that we apply the time, talent, and treasure that God has entrusted to us assist in His continuing act of creation, seeking truth and working to ensure that all those around us are enabled to apply their gifts as well.
- The Church defines the common good as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily… These demands concern above all the commitment to peace, the organization of the State’s powers, a sound juridical system, the protection of the environment, and the provision of essential services to all.” Everyone deserves access to a dignified home, sufficient and nutritious food, and an opportunity to put the talents God entrusted to them to work.
- Subsidiarity is the principle that all institutions of society – the government, businesses, schools, community organizations, and above all the family – help each other to serve their proper purpose. It includes the general rule that things should be done, and decided, by individuals, or at the lowest responsibly possible social level. Only by empowering individuals and smaller groups to make their own decisions can their freedom to seek God in their own ways be ensured. Each of us must be allowed to make our own way, and chart our own course.
- Solidarity, or the principle that what affects one of us affects us all, whether we are in the same town, province, or country, speak the same language, or have the same interests. As St. Paul explained, we are all different parts of the same One Body of Christ.
- The values of truth, freedom, justice, and love.
- The virtues of wisdom and humility.
Want more information?
- Our summary of the principles, values, virtues, and sins of Catholic social thinking, based on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the Catechism, and other Church teachings, is available here.
- The official and encyclopedic Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church can be found here.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found here.
- Our thoughts on the proper civic roles of social institutions, including the people, government, schools, the media, and the Church are available here.
- Curious as to which level(s) of government are responsible for an issue? A listing of federal, provincial, and municipal responsibilities in Canada can be found here.
- Thoughts on the Catholic duty of civic participation can be found here.
- Papal teachings, including encyclicals, exhortations, and other documents, are available at www.vatican.va.
- Materials published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops concerning peace, justice, civics, and participation can be found here.
Political parties and candidates seldom express their policies in ways that are readily relatable to the teachings of the Church. To help Catholics, and others who are interested in a more rightly-ordered society, we have mapped party policies into issues Catholics are called to consider, and related them both to each other and to the teachings of the Church.
Catholic voters will have an enormous impact on the outcome of Canada’s next federal election. It’s important that Catholic voters discern their vote prayerfully and thoughtfully, with the best available information about Catholic social teaching and each of the party’s policy platforms.
To help your parish or group, we have created a one-page, double-sided description of a Catholic voting process, with a listing of issues to be considered – and as analyzed on our platforms comparison page. Please take a look. If it’s helpful, please feel free to copy and distribute. If you would like changes, please let us know – we’re here to help.
For those wishing to investigate volunteer opportunities, or to check for recent party updates, here are links to the parties’ web pages. These are for the six parties registered with Elections Canada that received the most votes in the 2019 election:
- Bloc Quebecois
- Christian Heritage Party of Canada
- Conservative Party of Canada
- Green Party of Canada
- Liberal Party of Canada
- New Democrat Party of Canada
Elections Canada offers a variety of resources, including vote-by mail instructions:
- The very first step is to register as a voter. Registration information can be found here.
- The next step is to reach out to those who seek to represent you. Riding maps can be found here, to help you identify candidates in your riding.
- The next step is to make sure you know where to go to vote. Most provinces offer listings of polling places online.
- A list of registered parties is available here.
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